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Harmful Phytoplankton and Bivalve Aquaculture in a Cold Ocean Environment



The Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, the Aquaculture Research Section of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have partnered in an ACRDP (Aquaculture Collaborative Research Development Program) funded project to develop an early warning program for harmful marine phytoplankton at shellfish aquaculture sites. Information obtained from this research will establish a framework for assessing and managing the risk harmful algae may pose to the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. A harmful algae early warning system has been designed and implemented on 9 commercial mussel aquaculture sites in Newfoundland. Phytoplankton samples and environmental data including nutrients, SEABIRD CTD casts and moored YSI Sonde profilers, were collected at each site. Microscopic analysis using a Zeiss Axiovert 35 inverted microscope and Hitachi S570 scanning electron microscope were conducted to determine the presence of known harmful algal species. When harmful algal species were detected at a site at concentrations that might affect site management, shellfish growers were immediately notified and additional sampling and testing was done. When suspect species were detected, the following procedures were followed:

  1. additional plankton sampling was conducted;
  2. mussels were provided to Canadian Food Inspection Agency for appropriate testing and
  3. phytoplankton samples were concentrated for chemical analysis.

Sampling at selected sites also included the collection of epiphytic algae from the mussel sock or seed collector lines. Providing the shellfish growers with harmful algae information and the resulting husbandry practices that can be taken to ensure the safe transfer or harvest of their product from their site is important to developing a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) industry standard in Newfoundland and is vital to product marketing and exportation.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2001 - 2005


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Cynthia McKenzie

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